On October 1st, 2020, I will celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the day I received Christ and became a Christian.
I’m writing this the day before, knowing that tomorrow, I’ll be having Mohs surgery for skin cancer. Don’t worry, at this point the basal cell carcinoma should be taken care of fairly easily. It’s on the cartilage of my ear and I think I got it early. I know what Mohs surgery is like, My other ear had squamous cell cancer and had the same procedure.
If you’re not familiar with this skin cancer procedure, the dermatologist excises a little tissue which is then tested for cancer. Over and over more skin tissue is taken and tested until there’s no more cancer detected.
As I thought of this happening, I couldn’t help but connect this procedure with what I’ve experienced for the 53 years of knowing Christ: sanctification.
One way I think sanctification can be described is God tests (through circumstances and people) the layers of my heart to reveal evidence of any sin. Then He excises that part of my heart to be more pure by calling me to repentance and surrender in greater trust in Him.
In Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today, my husband, Larry, and I wrote about this sanctification process in another way:
Most of us think of sanctification visually like a linear time line.
On the left side of the line we make a step of progress and the temptation is now in the past—we think—and we’ll never need to address it again. We believe we have movied along that line to the right and we’ll only encounter new challenges—not old ones. But that’s not an accurate visual of spiritual change.
Spiritual change is like a spiral. Let’s call it a whirlpool.
Doesn’t life seem like that at times? We’re going around and around and every time we reach a certain area, there’s a rock, representing one of our sinful strategies, hitting us. In our spiritual walk, the rock represents a temptation to be react in an ungodly way– when we’re “hooked.” If we think there are no rocks (as if they are behind us in a time line), we’ll be surprised and unaware of their approach.
But knowing we have the tendencies of a particular sinful commitment, we can see that rock in the whirlpool coming.
Instead of being knocked around by it, we can actually chip off a piece by laying hold of God’s power and resisting the temptation. Like the Mohs procedure, little by little, chip by chip, layers of sinful rock are “excised.” The rock–sinful ungodly patterns– becomes smaller and smaller until it disappears—or grows so little that the temptation is easily resisted.
Unfortunately, we don’t become perfect because there are many rocks in that whirlpool of our lives!
Although this description of sanctification may not seem pleasant, like some medical procedure, it is actually for our good and our growth and glory for God. I’ve seen this occur for the 53 years of walking with Christ. And I actually feel more loved and valued because the Holy Spirit works on my heart and as a result I react more often with the fruit of the Spirit.
I hope you’ll be more encouraged to allow the Spirit to test and excise sinful parts of your heart. He loves you too much to allow you to continue in sinful ways. His way is the way of life.